Chris's Reviews > The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn

The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir
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's review
Feb 03, 10

bookshelves: history-tudors, history-english

I’ve been reading Weir for years. I’ve read almost all of her books. The two I haven’t read yet, I have, and they are in my TBR pile. I picked up The Lady in the Tower at my local BJs (which sometimes has the most wonderful books).
There is something about the Tudors, and it shouldn’t surprise that most of Weir’s non-fiction, and all of her fiction connects to this royal family. I first grew interested in the Tudors because I loved Renaissance English Literature. The Tudors are the ultimate soap opera, until Showtime made them a soap opera. No matter how good looking Rhys-Myers is, I can’t watch it. I keep clenching my teeth. The Tudors make soap opera because there are the stock characters, the stock myths. It isn’t surprising that both historians and readers keep returning to them.
This is Weir’s best book. Period.
It is one of the best books about Anne Boleyn. (Ives book is the best, but it is very dry).
Weir doesn’t focus on Anne’s whole life; instead she focuses on the events leading up and including Anne’s trial and execution. Because of this, if you are totally unfamiliar with Henry VIII and his wives, I would suggest reading any of the biographies about the monarch and his serial harem (Fraser, Starkey, and Weir have all written books).
Because the focus of the book is so narrow, the book is absolutely riveting. I have read plenty about Anne and about the Tudors. Weir presents the most riveting account of Anne’s death that I have seen anyway, all the more riveting because Weir relies on firsthand accounts. Even if you are a Katherine of Aragorn supporter, you have to admire Anne’s courage when facing beheading.
Another wonderful aspect of this book is that Weir is so even handed. In most biographies of Anne, she is either portrayed as a monster (Erickson) or as a saint (Denny). Weir portrays her as a human. The focus is more on politics, and while Henry VIII doesn’t look like a dove, the true villain, according to Weir’s thesis, is Cromwell, the motive more of politic power than anything else. And Weir makes a very convincing argument.
Weir not only closely examines Anne’s trial, but she deals with theories presented by other historians, showing the strengths and weakness of the theories. (She is very indebted to Ives. IF you haven’t read his book, read it). The only time she seems to get angry at a fellow historian is when discussing Strickland at one point, and that has to do with Strickland misrepresenting what Weir herself wrote. Weir is also very clear when stating fact, and when stating opinion.
Weir includes an appendix on the ghost legends surrounding Anne. More importantly, Weir includes an appendix where she discusses the merits and flaws of the historical sources
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Chris I really love him too, but I can't watch it. I've tried, I really have. It's so sad.

message 2: by Jamie (new)

Jamie I only made it through two episodes of the show. Rhys-Myers was so wrong for Henry. Most of the characterization was off, and I couldn't stand it. I guess I'm stuck with the 1970 Keith Michell mini-series.

Susanna - Censored by GoodReads That 1970 series is excellent, though.

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